Unprecedented turnover at top of Class AAAAAA rankings

by: Todd Holcomb Updated:

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The Class AAAAAA rankings shuffle – with three No. 1 teams in the first three weeks of the season – is historic. North Gwinnett is the new No. 1, replacing Colquitt County, which replaced Norcross.

That is the first time since the Atlanta Journal-Constitution rankings began publishing a preseason poll in 1971 that there have been three No. 1 teams in the first three weeks of a season.

That got GHSF Daily to thinking about some of the most volatile seasons for No. 1 teams in history.

The 2006 season is the standard in the highest classification.

Camden County started No. 1. It seemed safe at the time. Camden had won a state-record 56 consecutive regular-season games. But the streak ended at 58 with a loss to Aiken, S.C.

Lowndes, the defending champion, got the nod at No. 1, only to lose days later to Central Gwinnett 11-7, ending Lowndes’ 25-game home winning streak. One of those home wins was a 38-0 victory over Central the previous season.

The next No. 1 was Roswell, which hadn’t held the top spot in any poll since 1971. Roswell proceeded to lose its next game 14-3 to Wheeler, which was 2-2 and hadn’t had a winning season in nine years.

Next up at No. 1 was North Gwinnett, making its first-ever appearance in the top spot. This also marked the first time since 1963 that the No. 1 team had lost in four consecutive weeks. (In ‘63, it was Rossville, Waycross and Dalton in Class AA.)

North Gwinnett held firm for three weeks. But the Bulldogs lost to No. 2 Norcross in a battle of 9-0 teams for the Region 7 championship in the final week of the regular season, making Norcross the No. 1 team in the playoffs. It also was Norcross’ first No. 1 ranking.

The 2006 season ended in a most fitting way – a 14-14 tie. Peachtree Ridge and Roswell shared the championship.

Since 1996, when the state playoffs were expanded to 32 teams, there has been only one No. 4 seed to win a state title. That’s Peachtree Ridge. There has been only one team not currently in Gwinnett County or Region 1 to win a state title in the highest class. That’s Roswell. It was a whacky year.

Below are all seasons since 1971 in which there have been as many as five No. 1 teams in one class, one season. The teams are listed in the order in which they became No. 1.

Note that the highest classification had been stable until 2006.Now, anything can happen.

*1972 Class AA (5) – Westminster, Woodward Academy, Shamrock, Southwest (Atlanta), Southwest DeKalb

1975 Class B (7) – Duluth, Trion, Duluth, Trion, Savannah Country Day, Bremen, Lyons

1977 Class AA (5) – Dalton, Fayette County, Woodward Academy, Ware County, Waycross

1978 Class A (5) – Buford, Savannah Country Day, Gordon Lee, Miller County, Buford

1982 Class A (5) – Palmetto, Commerce, Palmetto, Metter, Palmetto

1986 Class A (6) – Lincoln County, Commerce, East Rome, Wilcox County, Warren County, Lincoln County

1987 Class AAA (5) – Villa Rica, Worth County, Central Thomasville, Thomasville, Worth County

1993 Class AA (6) – Mitchell Baker, Early County, Dublin, Swainsboro, Washington County, Greene-Taliaferro

1998 Class A (5) – Washington-Wilkes, Lincoln County, Commerce, Irwin County, Darlington

2006 Class AAAAA (7) – Camden County, Lowndes, Roswell, North Gwinnett, Norcross, Peachtree Ridge/Roswell

2007 Class AAAAA (5) – Roswell, Norcross, Stephenson, North Cobb, Lowndes

2011 Class AAAAAA (5) – Brookwood, Lowndes, McEachern, Camden County, Grayson

*In 1972, No. 1 Westminster lost its opening game, and new No. 1 Woodward lost its next game, leading to three No. 1 teams in three weeks. But Westminster had a bye the first week. Westminster lost in week 2, and Woodward lost in week 3. So technically, it was three No. 1 teams in four weeks that season. Otherwise this would be the only case other than 2013 (AAAAAA) to see three No. 1 teams in the first three weeks of a season.

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